Saturday, January 30, 2010
|7:40 p.m.||I Walked with a Zombie|
Jacques Tourneur (U.S., 1943)
Preserved Archival Print
Voodoo and family-centered psychodrama combine with surreal ease in this mesmerizing, atmospheric film that transposes elements of the Jane Eyre plot to Haiti. Betsy Connell (Frances Dee), private nurse to Jessica Holland, finds herself privy to skeletons in the Holland family closet that have a particular bearing on the state of her patient. Like Cat People’s Irena, Jessica is a kind of receptacle for evil: Haiti’s uneasy master-slave relations, an undercurrent throughout the film, are recreated in the uneasy relationships between men and women in the Holland household. But, unlike Irena, the cat’s got Jessica’s tongue: in a permanent sleepwalking trance, she cannot speak of the roots of her condition. The willowy blonde in her uncanny opacity is the unlikely mirror to the hulking guardians of a repressed native culture—“speaking” of Western man’s silencing of the Other.
—Judy Bloch, Britta Sjogren
• Written by Curt Siodmak, Ardel Wray, from a story by Inez Wallace. Photographed by J. Roy Hunt. With James Ellison, Frances Dee, Tom Conway, Edith Barrett. (69 mins, B&W, 35mm, From Library of Congress, permission Warner Bros. Preserved by Library of Congress.)